86th Annual Academy Awards

With my most recent page focused on the topic of “Awards Season”, I have considered it worthwhile to post my own comments in regards to the upcoming Academy Awards.  This is merely the opinion of one man, and they are not to be read as predictions.  I have merely selected those films which I think should win, not those that shall win.  This was a fantastic year for film, and there were, therefore, no shortage of “snubs.”  I should make some preliminary comments: the Academy is primarily American, and these awards are undoubtedly ethnocentric.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.  So, while foreign films do indeed have a category of their own, and while these foreign films do indeed get the occasional nomination in other categories—including “Best Picture” every now and again—I am not putting up a fight that we should take the Academy Awards ceremony away from its home.  I am the first to assert that the world as a whole produces better films in cooperation as opposed to the narrow scope of Hollywood, which casual movie-goers too-often consider as the only true factory of film.  However, I will not try, in this blog post in particular, to fight against a solid, respectable tradition.  So, there there are two foreign films that make the “Best Picture” race, at the expense of a couple very popular American films (sorry), but for the most part, the ethnocentrism is maintained.  Critics who decry American films get annoying, after all.  It’s not like we can’t make a good movie ourselves.  We often make the best movie in a given year.  Granted, it takes 100 movies to make one good one.  But that’s beside the point.  Besides, think of all the jobs we’re creating.

KEY:  My pick for winner is in boldface.  The asterisks (*) mark those who shouldn’t have been nominated in my opinion and should rather have been replaced with those that were “snubbed.”  The “snubbed” category refers only to those films that should have been nominated, not those that could have been or those that barely missed the cut (there are three exceptions here…you’ll see them in the “Best Picture”, “Makeup and Hairstyling”, and “Original Song” categories).  I include various notes to explain my more controversial picks.  You will notice that some “snubs” were so egregious that even the person or film who should have won it all was not even nominated (“Makeup and Hairstyling”, “Original Song”, and “Foreign Language Film.”)  I watched all the movies that were, and might have been, nominated, with the exception of a few that I refused to watch based on sexual content or lack of personal appeal.  These movies were Blue is the Warmest Color, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, and The Wolf of Wall Street.  I also could not get to most of the short films, as most of them are accessible only in certain windows of time. Other than that, my opinions should be considered pretty valid. Continue reading

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Peter O’Toole (1932-2013)

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The “last of the hard-drinking hellraisers” is dead, as was written December 14 by The Telegraph writer Robbie Collin.  Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Oliver Reed and others defined a generation of British actors hailing from Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England with their mix of imposing acting dexterity and their hell-raising personal lives.  Besides Richard Harris—perhaps—the most significant of these British hell-raisers was Peter O’Toole.  His significance was not born merely of his controversial life off the stage and away from the screen, but because he, above all others, was the greatest on that stage, and on that screen.  No actor in history has matched his volatility as a character actor, nor have they ever been able to meet him in his potent monologues.  There was something about his diction, a perfect blend of Irishman and Shakespearean reciter, that complimented his intensity of gaze, his angular expressions, and his physical simplicity.  His roles were a true masks of self, yet, somehow, reflections of that bombastic and flamboyant personality were found in each one of those roles.  For O’Toole, his own self was an integral part of every character he portrayed.  Perhaps this is best shown in own appraisal of his performance in Lord Jim—a role many considered a failure: “I was so wrong for the picture,” he said. “When I play reflective types, I tend to reflect myself right off the screen.” Continue reading

Roger Ebert (1942-2013)

 

Some people really changed my life when it came to movies.  I am forever indebted to my parents for helping me love and appreciate the occasional old-Hollywood film.  We watched Scrooge, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and It’s a Wonderful Life every Christmas; there was always a John Wayne movie available to watch; and in my teenage years, my father made sure to help me understand how cool Cary Grant and Gary Cooper were.  But, for the most part, my development as a fan of film was based solely on my own research, my own experience and my own evolving opinion. Continue reading